Commercial patterns = Paint by Numbers.
There. I said it.
They amount to the same thing, however, we don't build hip website communities and handmade/craft shows and dedicate portions of hipster magazines to Paint by Numbers, why do we do it with needlework? Why is it not only encouraged, but elevated, as if you and thousands other stitchers have found the Awesomest Project Ever? We don't celebrate painters that primarily paint Paint By Numbers, why do we do it with stitchers?
I know the conventional answer is "I can't come up with anything that cool/neat/beautiful/ but I want something interesting to stitch." Or, "I can't draw." Guess what. You don't have to.
Although most of my work is original, I often incorporate non original elements into it. For example, my postage stamp series utilizes actual postage stamps. Granted, I re-drew them, but it's not essential.
Here's a secret... There is plenty of copyright free art that can easily be used for needlework, and chances are, you'll be the only one stitching it. Oh, and it's free.
I'm currently doing a series of Haeckel drawings.
My Version in progress.
How did I do that? Well, I drew out the elements I wanted to keep, and then used a projector to enlarge it and traced it with a heat transfer marker to make the pattern. This is the third Haeckel piece I've done so far. I'm nearly 100% positive I'm the only person embroidering his work. (At least that's what Google tells me).
But what if you can't draw? If you don't have a projector? Easy. Just print it out and trace what you want with a transfer marker. Done.
This is my piece for an upcoming show. The theme is works based on The Garden Of Earthly Delights.
This is the original work that I tweaked and added new elements to.
Again, I drew my version and added things, but you could easily print it out and trace it.
Here's a great tutorial on how to turn photos into patterns- Feeling Stitchy Also, I bet this Craft Magazine tutorial would work too- Craftzine
So I guess my point is, needlework takes a tremendous amount of time. Do we want to spend that kind of effort on a pattern that everyone else is doing? And if we're not going to do our own work, why don't we pick something unusual? If we're going to do paint by numbers, let's do this-
*Also, Blogspot has changed the post format and it's all screwy. Forgive the strange paragraph layout.